Re-use is Cool



photo by M.A. Enriquez

In a world obsessed with new stuff, it’s refreshing to see a re-birth of re-use.

I stumbled upon an alter universe of crafters recently after a couple of tweets with Jeffrey Scwartz (CEO of Timberland) on up-cycling old denim. I was pitching taking old inventory and seconds and re-fabricating them into new products when I Googled recycled denim to see what was out there. OMG. It was like a vast world I’d never known before – thousands of pages of DIY crafters making everything from slippers to skirts to quilts from old jeans.

Ikea Hacker

In it’s hippest  form re-use’s cool factor is exemplified by ventures like Ikea Hacker a site devoted to the many permutations possible from Ikea furniture parts and creativity. My personal favorite is the plastic storage box come chicken feeder.

The Uniform Project

Another exceptionally cool venture is the Uniform Project where, starting May 2009, Sheena Matheiken has pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion (and an exercise in philanthropy – the project is raising funds for the Akanksha School Project.)

The eBay Green Team

Adding to the re-use rebirth is the entry of major companies into the fray. For example, eBay drove traffic and money to the Uniform Project when in October, the eBay Green Team launched a 2-week ‘re+purpose’ campaign supporting The Uniform Project. For each new member joining the community, eBay donated $1 to their cause.

The eBay Green team, fueled by a belief that the greenest product is one that already exists, has launched the ‘re +  purpose’ initiative to promote tinkering, crafting and re-use (their current contest is for the best “second life” given to a vintage, used, or discarded household item or piece of furniture)


Levi’s Care Tags

More recently Levi Strauss and Co. leapt into the re-use-is-cool fray with a partnership with Goodwill. Seems as though Levi’s will be the first major retailer to include end of life messaging on their clothing products. The new Care Tags encourage users to wash in cold water, line dry and donate to Goodwill when done.

Eileen Fisher’s Irvington Lab

Then there is Eileen Fisher’s (EF) new Irvington Lab. The EF LAB offers an assortment of four categories of women’s clothing and accessories: current, recent, sample, and recycled. Essentially, their encouraging customers to clean their closets and drop off clothes for resale to other EF customers (the entire proceeds from the sale of the recycled clothes will go to charities that help women and girls). While buying second hand clothes may not be a new concept for many of us, for EF clientele, a high end fashion line out of NYC , the concept could be earth shattering and suddenly more accessible.

MEC working with FairwareMEC_bag_rs

Closer to home, the Fairware crew pitched a creative re-use idea to one of our favorite clients Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) earlier this year. We had been working on a new re-usable tote bag program to support their elimination of plastic bags at stores when another part of the organization voiced a need for small manual sleeves for the launch of the new bike program. We suggested that the offcuts/waste material from the tote bags be used to manufacture these sleeves. MEC went for it and the result is a cool, useful item made with re-used content (literally from the shop floor).

The hipsters and crafters have been onto it for a long time and it’s nice to see some companies following suit. With a little creativity, most things could see an after life – check out the resting place of this old school bus.

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One Response to “Re-use is Cool”

  1. Jessica Says:

    Hi there, This is Jessica from The Uniform Project.

    Thank you so much for the mention. We are constantly amazed and inspired by everyone’s support and creativity (donations, ideas, stories etc) lent to our project. We really couldn’t do it without you guys.

    Cheers from the U.P!

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